It turns out that dogs don’t know they should walk without pulling the leash or lagging behind unless you teach them. This can be a challenge as dog get excited about exploring outdoors and they move faster than we do. Some dogs want to walk as quickly as they can, while others want to sniff around and investigate anything around them. To teach them properly, you should consistently never allow them to pull.
Red Light, Green Light
According to the ASPCA, there are several ways to train your dog on a loose leash. One of these is known as red light, green light. Begin by walking the way you want to go. As soon as your dog reaches the end of his leash and pulls, it is a red light. Stop completely and wait. After he stops pulling and puts slack in the leash, call him back to you. When he comes over to you, tell him to sit. After he does this, tell him “Yes” and reward him with a treat. Now it is time for a green light to continue walking. If your dog looks at you for another treat, you can say “Yes” and give him another one while you are walking. If he pulls again, it is time for a red light. This teaches your dog that if he stays near you or looks at you and he gets to keep moving. It also teaches him that if he pulls on the leash, he will have to come back to you and sit.
Lure and Reward
Begin with your dog standing at your left side. Have several treats enclosed in your left hand. Hold them in front of your dog’s nose and say “Let’s walk.” Start walking and every few seconds, put a small treat into your dog’s mouth to praise her for staying at your pace. If he pulls ahead or goes to the side, immediately stop. Call your dog’s name and ask him to sit. Praise him when he does. Then put the hand loaded with treats in front of your dog’s nose and walk again. Every day, go a little bit further on your walk than the day before. After doing this every day for about a week, just carry the treats in your pocket and reward her from there. When he can walk along without pulling for several minutes, begin to increase the number of steps that you go without giving him a treat.
This option and the next should only be used if your dog is not wearing a choke, pinch or prong collar. They both involve punishment. Although this can decrease behavior quickly, it should be stopped if it doesn’t result in a noticeable decrease of pulling. Some dogs do not respond to stopping and waiting or luring with treats. In this case, when your dog pulls, instead of stopping, turn back and walk the way you came. Before your dog reaches the end of the leash, tell him “Easy.” If he slows down, say “Yes” and call him back to you for a treat while you keep moving. Should he not slow down but go to the end of the leash and start pulling, don’t say anything. Just turn quickly and let the leash check your dog. When your dog runs to catch up to you, give him praise. After he reaches you, turn and walk in your original direction.
- Consider tiring out your dog with another type of exercise before taking him on a loose leash walk. This may help burn off some excess energy that he would have had on your walk.
- Loose leash training sessions should be frequent, short and fun for your dog.
- Walk at a quick pace so that your dog will have fewer opportunities to catch a whiff of something interesting.